After Riga stated that it did not want to see Luzhkov as its resident, the Latvian society exploded with discussions of the correctness of this decision. In connection with Luzhkov‘s frank statement that he needs the notorious "freedom of movement," other European countries started discussing where the ex-mayor of Moscow may be headed. Miniature Austria was worried the most because Luzhkov's wife already has real estate in the country which she, according to local press reports, is going to grow even more in the future.
Last Tuesday, the Interior Minister Linda Murniece, after a meeting with President Valdis Zatlers, explained her harsh decision to include Yuri Luzhkov's on her "black list".
"The rationale was his attitude to Latvia, his hostile statements about Latvia, his desire to use Latvia for personal purposes, because it is obvious that his goal was not to invest in Latvia, the Latvian economy, but to use Latvia for travel to the Schengen zone," said Murniece.
At the same time she seemed to prove the world that the love of the proud Baltic republic cannot be bought with money, and that the Latvian authorities are able to discern ulterior motives behind papers and statements. However, Murniece referred to the information provided by Latvian security services.
It turns out that Luzhkov is not the only Russian celebrity on the black list. The list also includes Vladimir Zhirinovsky and Boris Berezovsky. For some time Russian singer Iosif Kobzon was persona non grata in the Baltic republic. Last year alone the Ministry of Internal Affairs added six people to the list. In total, it has approximately five thousand individuals whose names are kept secret, reports Deutsche Welle.
After the statement of Latvian authorities, Luzhkov's neighbor on the black list Vladimir Zhirinovsky said that "Luzhkov has the right to expect support of the Russian Foreign Ministry on this issue, as it is humiliation of a Russian citizen and, therefore, a shot at Russia."
At the same time, many Latvian publications regarded this step as the government's unwillingness to ruin relations with Russia. However, the Latvian society is divided on the issue. Some followed the example of the prime minister and refused to comment on this very delicate political issue. The Minister of Defense Atis Pabriks spoke against the ban on the entry of ex-mayor of Moscow to the country. He based his opposition on the fact that criticism of the government is not a valid reason for refusing to issue a residence permit, especially since Luzhkov has formal grounds to obtain it.
"You cannot divide people according to what they were saying. In the end, he was an influential politician who has invested an amount prescribed by law. If you've passed such a law, he has the right to request a residence permit," Deutsche Welle quoted Pabriks.
Mayor of Liepaja Uldis Sesks also expressed his regret that this rejection will not allow the rich Russian and his wife to invest in the Latvian economy. While the Baltic Republic is in the midst of heated discussion, the European countries are wondering - what is the next door the ex-mayor of Moscow is going to knock at.
A "source familiar with the situation" named Austria and Britain among the countries where Luzhkov wants to get a residence permit. British press does not seem to be bothered with Luzhkov's possible move, although his daughters are there at the moment, and the wife of the former mayor Elena Baturina pays them frequent visits. As for Austrian journalists, they are actively but so far unsuccessfully trying to scout whether they will soon be having an honorable guest.
Tirol newspaper ORF released information that Elena Baturina wants to buy new property in Kitzbuehel, where she already owns a house and a hotel with a golf field, as well as a private property in the Aurach, which consists of a main building and a house for staff and guests. The object of the disgraced family's passion is located near Aurach. According to the newspaper, they already signed a lease contract with an option to purchase the property one year later.
It is unclear whether Tyrol will become a new refuge for the family of billionaires. Kitzbuehel authorities said that at the time there was no bid from the former mayor of Moscow. However, the newspaper notes that he may act through other channels, for example, ask for a long-term visa at the embassy.